Oliver Goldsmith

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Plays by Oliver Goldsmith

She Stoops to Conquer

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Populated by a sweep of brilliant comic characters, She Stoops to Conquer is a spirited comedy of mischief and misunderstanding, as the gallant Marlow mistakes his intended well-born bride for a barmaid.

Young Marlow is petrified in the presence of women of his own class, but rampantly flirtatious with the serving classes. To his alarm, he has been sent, accompanied by his friend Hastings who has his own agenda, to meet the bride his father has chosen for him: the daughter of a respected gentleman, Mr Hardcastle. They have got lost in the dark country roads, and unfortunately – or perhaps fortunately – the mischievous Tony Lumpkin convinces them that the old country house is an inn, Mr Hardcastle its eccentric innkeeper, and Kate Hardcastle its barmaid.

Kate, enjoying as a consequence Marlow’s palpable ardour, chooses not to undeceive him, until a delightful flurry of trifling confusions and eavesdroppings have made way for a pleasingly neat happy ending.

Goldsmith’s play was first performed in 1773 at the Covent Garden theatre, London, and its well-meaning comic exuberance has made it a favourite on the stage from Goldsmith’s day to ours.

audio She Stoops to Conquer

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

In this classic comedy of manners, two young men set out to woo the alluring and upper-crust Kate and Constance. But is anybody in this rural estate ruly who they seem? Bawdy hijinks and popped pretensions are the hallmarks of this romping frolic that’s kept audiences laughing for over two centuries.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring: Rosalind Ayres as Mrs. Hardcastle Adam Godley as Tony Lumpkin Julian Holloway as Elder Marlow and Stingo James Marsters as Charles Marlow Christopher Neame as Roger Paula Jane Newman as Bet Bouncer and Pimple Ian Ogilvy as Mr. Hardcastle Moira Quirk as Constance Neville Darren Richardson as Diggory and Jeremy Joanne Whalley as Kate Hardcastle Matthew Wolf as George Hastings Directed by Martin Jarvis. Recorded before a live audience at the Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles.

Featuring: Rosalind Ayres, Adam Godley, Julian Holloway, James Marsters, Christopher Neame, Paula Jane Newman, Ian Ogilvy, Moira Quirk, Darren Richardson, Joanne Whalley, Matthew Wolf

Picture of Oliver Goldsmith

Oliver Goldsmith (1730-74) was an Irish poet, playwright, novelist, and journalist, whose two plays have outlived the efforts of all his contemporaries except Sheridan. Dr Johnson described him as 'a very great man', while Goethe would later write, 'To Shakespeare, Sterne, and Goldsmith my debt has been limitless'.

Goldsmith's youth gave little promise of his future achievements. After attending Trinity College, Dublin, he abandoned plans to be ordained. He thought of emigrating to America but missed his ship. He then briefly studied medicine before travelling through Europe, partially supporting himself by busking. On his return, he earned a meagre living by translating and reviewing; it was in this period that he emerged as an essayist of talent. Goldsmith's first play, The Good-Natured Man, was turned down by Garrick; the elder Colman subsequently produced it at Covent Garden (1768) though with only mild success.

Goldsmith made his name as a playwright with the comedy She Stoops to Conquer (1773), in which two men mistake a private house for an inn (a mistake the playwright had himself once made). Goldsmith's only novel The Vicar of Wakefield (1766) was successfully adapted for the stage in 1878 with Ellen Terry in the role of Olivia, a part later played on tour by her sister, Florence Terry.

His Irish impudence and inconsequential style of chat often irritated his London contemporaries. Horace Walpole called him 'an inspired idiot' while Samuel Johnson commented 'No man was more foolish when he had not a pen in his hand, or more wise when he had'.